When investigating someone for driving under the influence (DUI), it's common for an officer to ask the person to take a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the driver's system. The driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the concentration of drugs in the driver's blood is often used to prove a DUI in court.
This article gives an overview of Vermont's implied consent law and the consequences of an unlawful refusal.
Vermont's implied consent law specifies that any person who holds a Vermont driver's license or operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a blood or breath test. For a DUI arrest to be lawful, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or that an underage driver was operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
Under Vermont law, a driver has the right to consult with an attorney prior to deciding whether to take a blood or breath test. However, the law gives a driver only 30 minutes to get in contact with an attorney. Once the 30 minutes is up, it's decision time for the driver.
The consequences of a refusal generally depend on how many prior offenses the driver has that occurred within the past 20 years. Prior offenses include all DUI-related suspensions.
The suspension period is six months for a first offense, 18 months for a second offense, and life for a third or subsequent offense. However, a driver might be able to obtain a restricted ignition interlock license to operate a vehicle during the suspension period.
License reinstatement is conditioned on the driver's completion of certain requirements. These requirements depend on the driver's history and might include educational programs related to drinking and driving and some form of substance abuse treatment.
Drivers who wish to contest their refusal-related suspension can request an administrative hearing.